Floods are not deterring buyers

I am surprised to see a pattern that increased flooding is not causing a decline in coastal properties.


“I didn’t really understand the gravity of the flooding that had occurred in this area until after I signed on the dotted line,” – a Florida woman quoted in today’s New York Times. We are seeing the same issue here at the South Jersey bayshore. New neighbors in Gandy’s Beach NJ a mile away from our home office at Money Island told my wife “We bought online. We did not know that it floods here.” It was unclear whether they could spend the additional money required to lift and stabilize their home and other accommodations for living here.

The article emphasize that flooding does not discourage buyers, but rather makes it so that only more affluent buyers who can afford the cost of wet flood proofing elevation or demolition and rebuilding can afford.

The article emphasize that flooding does not discourage buyers, but rather makes it so that only more affluent buyers who can afford the cost of wet flood proofing elevation or demolition and rebuilding can afford. While property remains relatively affordable, under $500,000 for waterfront lot, the cost to rebuild a home can double that cost.

The cost of the home is not the only consideration. Special vehicles are necessary to live in salt water flood prone areas. We see mostly elevated older trucks here but more affluent neighbors are adding amphibious vehicles. Salt water is highly corrosive, so vehicle useful life is shortened. A reliable unsinkable boat and boat dock or elevated launch are also important. With the move toward more reliable and sustainable electric boating, this adds more than a hundred thousand dollars additional cost. Elevated boat launches that are assessable in times of flooding are called a “ramp of past resort“. New Jersey has not yet approved funding for these safety features in communities that need this.

Most observers predict this is the future of the bayshore: fewer homes owned only by multi-millionaires who replace the working-class owners who historically built and lived in these communities. Our Downe Township government has already endorsed this type of redevelopment at Money Island and our township commission hired an architect’s firm to design a visionary planning proposal. In 2019 the township passed an ordinance allowing them to negotiate to purchase privately owned properties for redevelopment. Since then, property values rose sharply, and it is unclear whether government is able to access necessary funds for infrastructure and community development here.

Meanwhile, we notice a shift in the buyers’ profile. Historically bayshore second homes were purchased by South Jersey residents. Now we notice that buyers come from farther away, are more affluent, and are often immigrants. The few recent buyers were apparently enabled with Chinese business financial backing.* Separately, we notice that most visitors to Money Island in recent years are not local residents, but Philadelphians of Asian background. Many visitors do not speak English so it is difficult to learn more.

*Disclosure: SouthJersey.CPA represents clients with businesses in China who invest in South Jersey real estate.

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